By Molly Hays, Communcations Intern
In sub-Saharan Africa, for every 1,000 girl’s ages 15 to 19 years old, 143 become pregnant. In addition, lack of proper health care resources means that carrying and having a child places the mother’s life at great risks.
Thankfully, education is on the rise, both basic and sexual. Previously higher education levels in the region had been linked with increased contraction of STIs and since holding a higher education afforded people more free time and access to sex workers and HIV/AIDS during a time when sex education was almost nonexistent. However, that has been reversed with the onset of HIV/AIDS education.
Unlike sub-Saharan Africa, sexual education taboos have been eradicated in the Netherlands. An open approach is taken in schools where teachers and students converse freely about sexual topics, blending hard facts with feelings.
The program called “Lang leve de liefde” or “Long Live Love,” was developed in the 1980s when AIDS became a hot topic. Sex is treated as a natural interaction between two human beings, and teachers are taught to teach the truth about sex to even elementary school children. This openness has silenced snickers and giggles – giving way to completely open forums where children are relaxed and not afraid to ask questions.
Honesty is important as children are also informed about homosexual intercourse, prostitution, masturbation and contraception. Currently 93 percent of sexually active youth use contraception.
However, a negative stigma is attached to having a child before reaching the age of 20. Also sex is viewed in terms of love and not conquest, resulting in many youth waiting until almost 18 years of age to have sex.
Prior to this campaign, it was not uncommon for sex education to be limited to a single page in a book that children were instructed to read on their own. Many children learned about sex from pornography websites, since their education need was not being met by schools or family.
Many people suffering from sexually transmitted diseases were reluctant to seek help, or never did. In addition, STI rates, especially that of HIV and AIDS continued to rise, forcing the government to take action thus the new program; the goal is to educate and guide people but also to restrict negative sexual influences like the very porn websites children sought out.
These changes do look bright, allowing for more discourse and actual education.